It’s time to put the Super Gerbil CNC Controller pre-production units through their paces with a testing regime that’s included a wide range of activities:
- Installation – technically correct and user-friendly
- Configuration – technically correct and user-friendly
- All the basic operations – jogging, homing, returning data to PC etc
- Real world milling jobs – keep an eye on our website, we’ll show them off soon
- Accuracy testing – see our Super Gerbil accuracy blog
- Performance and thermal testing
We’ve always found that the product designer is least able to perform robust testing, so Dan’s been taking the lead on testing. Yes, we have found a number of issues, which Paul has worked hard to resolve. 90% of the issues related to the firmware, and many of them are minor. This is encouraging as it means that by the time the product testing completes, the firmware will be very solid.
An example of a firmware issue: Dan noticed that, although the CNC mill’s steppers were moving correctly, the Super Gerbil (and hence Universal G-code Sender) reported a lagged version of the stepper positions. In some cases, an old stepper position could remain on the PC screen for several seconds after the stepper movement finished. Such false readings could lead the user to inadvertently spoiling the workpiece, so Paul embarked on a forensic analysis of the firmware operation, until making changes to ensure the PC has the latest stepper position. Dan insists on version control of the firmware so that none of the resolved bugs surface again in the future. Only two hardware issues have been logged. The first relates to a supplier substituting their alternatives for our documented component. Although the unauthorised substitution made only a minor functionality impact, we’ll insist that the supplier 100% follow our Bill Of Material so that our vision of a powerful and full-featured CNC controller is delivered on.
While we’re thrilled with the power and performance of the TB67S109 stepsticks, the second hardware related issue comes from a supplier’s small documentation error causing unexpected results in the Super Gerbil board. Through an extended process of debugging, Paul identified their documentation error and a small Super Gerbil circuit change now allows for the unique design of TB67S109 stepstick.